This Friday, No. 12 Stanford (9-3, 7-2 Pac-12) will face off against No. 10 USC (10-2, 8-1 Pac-12) in the Pac-12 Championship game at Levi’s Stadium. This will be the second time they’ve met this season, with Stanford losing 42-24 at USC on Sept. 9.
The Cardinal is looking for revenge in this rematch against the Trojans, which will have to involve shutting down quarterback Sam Darnold while protecting against the run. They’ll also seek to extend David Shaw’s 3-0 record for Pac-12 Championship Games. Though the Cardinal will be coming off a short week, having played Notre Dame on Saturday, they have the advantage of Levi’s Stadium being so close it’s practically a home game.
By contrast, USC has farther to travel to get to the game, but it’s coming off of a bye week, making it well-rested for this contest. The Trojans will also be looking for vengeance, though for them it’ll be for the 2015 Pac-12 Championship.
Expect a physical, heart-filled matchup. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the last three times Stanford has made it to the Championship.
December 5th, 2015: McCaffrey MVP, Hogan shines in victory
By the end of the game, Christian McCaffrey and Kevin Hogan each had a rushing, receiving and passing touchdown. Hogan’s catch was the first of his college career, and it came on an 11-yard pass from McCaffrey that brought the score to 10-0 in the second quarter.
USC put up 16 unanswered points after that, but a 7-yard run from Hogan gave Stanford the lead again, which was stretched three minutes later when Blake Martinez stripped the ball from quarterback Cody Kessler and it was returned for a touchdown by Solomon Thomas.
A 28-yard touchdown pass from Hogan to McCaffrey, followed by a 10-yard rushing touchdown from McCaffrey put the game out of reach in the fourth quarter.
The confetti fell, and the crowd chanted “Heisman … Heisman … Heisman.”
Stanford 41, USC 22
December 7th, 2013: Second-straight Rose Bowl for Stanford
When Stanford beat Arizona State on Saturday, December 7, it marked the first time since 1972 that they had reached two consecutive Rose Bowls. It was also Stanford’s fourth consecutive 10-win season.
The Cardinal took the lead on the third play of the game with a 69-yard touchdown run by Tyler Gaffney.
Stanford didn’t trail for the rest of the game.
Tyler Gaffney ended the game with three touchdowns and 133 yards on 22 carries, 107 of which came in the first half. His efforts were bolstered by Devon Cajuste, who ended with 120 yards off of just two catches.
Add in Kevin Hogan passing for 277 yards and you see how Stanford kept Arizona on its heels for the entire game.
Stanford 38, Arizona State 14
November 30th, 2012: Smelling the roses
Stanford took down UCLA for the second time in six days, though less easily than before. UCLA scored on their opening drive, and Stanford answered on the next drive courtesy of Kevin Hogan, who was starting for just the fourth time in his career. After that, the Bruins quarterback scored on a run of his own, and they took the lead again.
An interception by Ed Reynolds brought Stanford to the UCLA one-yard line, and Stepfan Taylor ran it in to tie. Stanford took the lead again before the end of the half with a field goal, which UCLA matched in the third quarter. The Bruins took the lead again with one minute left in the third, bringing the score to 24-7.
The Cardinal stayed calm though, and a pass from Hogan to Drew Terrell, followed by a field goal gave Stanford the lead. A last-ditch 51-yard field goal attempt in the rain by UCLA fell short, and Stanford students rushed the field, many holding roses.
Stanford 27, UCLA 24
Contact Ariana Rollins at arianar ‘at’ stanford.edu.